Senior Airbus executives continue to hint that a re-engined A380 is being considered, but insist the "priority" remains securing orders for the current version of the superjumbo – something chief executive Fabrice Bregier sees as achievable this year, after Airbus finished 2014 with just 13 net orders for its biggest airliner.
"Long-term improvements to the A380 are certain," said Bregier at a briefing in Toulouse today, but he adds that the sales focus is very much on the existing programme.
While Airbus won an order for 20 A380s from lessor Amedeo in 2014, the year also brought cancellations of deals covering six for Japanese carrier Skymark and one VIP version for Saudi Arabia. The Skymark cancellation has left Airbus, which delivered 30 superjumbos last year, with two A380 "white-tails" at the end of production.
Bregier admits that the A380 "went through difficult times" – a reference to reliability issues in its early years in service – "but these are now firmly behind us". He repeats his earlier insistence that the programme is "on track to deliver breakeven" by 2015, adding: "We are convinced its best days lie ahead."
His colleague John Leahy, chief operating officer for customers, says a revamped A380 would not just have replacement engines: "If we ever do an A380neo, there could be sharklets and an aerodynamic clean-up... a list of things. We have always said we would not do it unless we could achieve a 10% lower fuel burn."